Response to National Audit Office report on LEPs

The National Audit Office has published a new report on local enterprise partnerships.

Responding to the report, Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Chair, Roger Marsh OBE, said:

“As the LEP with the largest Growth Deal funding settlement nationally and with a unique set of flexibilities around how we invest in schemes to boost economic growth, we take very seriously our obligations to the taxpayer. With the promise of further devolution for Leeds City Region on the table, this report from the National Audit Office’s contains some timely recommendations to ensure that taxpayers’ investment is spent as wisely and accountably as possible.

“Clearly, as the report acknowledges, the rapidly expanding role of LEPs in recent years, has presented challenges. From a standing start, we’ve put in place the capabilities and governance structures to take on board significant devolved funding and responsibilities and are now delivering an economic growth agenda that’s comparable to the former Regional Development Agency’s with a fraction of the resource.

“Despite these challenges our partnership approach – combining private sector innovation with public sector accountability – is really working. Over the past four years we’ve helped more than 4,000 businesses to grow, supported over 2,000 young people into apprenticeships and have secured the investment to create over 36,000 new jobs by 2036. All of our decisions are subject to approval in public by democratically elected local politicians through the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, ensuring that our investments – which include major transport schemes, new college facilities, and programmes to support businesses and apprenticeships – represent value for money and achieve maximum economic impact.

“Our continuing discussions with government give us an opportunity to strengthen our accountability yet further, by putting in place a City Region devolution arrangement across a meaningful and coherent economic geography.”